The wool industry is no less important than the silk industry for Italy; it occupies the greater part of the activity of the factories of northern Italy.
It too, like its sister company, has understood all the advantages of cooperation and presents visitors with a collective exhibition.
It is located in a rectangular room, with display cases arranged all around the walls and topped with decorative panels that reproduce the history of wool in small pictures. On this decorative strip, flocks being driven to pasture, scenes of shepherds playing the musette alternating with views of trades in activity; in the centre, the group of a beautiful spinner followed by a few sheep completes the pastoral and artistic tone of the exhibition.
The wool industry, which flourishes throughout northern Italy, from Carignan and Caselle to Schio, has its greatest production centre in the Biella area. It has been in existence for several centuries, but its present progress dates only from 1817, when Pierre Sella introduced mechanical weaving of wool.
Diagrams provide instructive comparisons of the art of wool weaving. Hand looms, which numbered 5,989 in 1876, fell to 1,900 in 1907, while mechanical looms rose during the same period from 2,364 to 10,567. The machine triumphs!
The workshops in Piedmont, from 1894 to 1907, fell from 140 to no, while the number of workers increased from 11,767 to 15,699. The same phenomenon is found throughout Italy, with a sharp decrease in establishments from 489 to 223, and a significant increase in workers from 30,625 to 38,000. Large-scale industry, because of the great expense of organisation and operation, is gradually absorbing small-scale industry, both in Italy and abroad.
A data which is of great importance for the national economy is the ratio between domestic production and consumption, with their value in francs. In 1886, 12,500,000 kg. of wool were produced in Italy for 74 million francs; 15,400,000 kg. were consumed for 130 million francs; that is 76 million which emigrated abroad to import wool sufficient for the needs of the nation. In 1908, on the contrary, 31,900,000 kg. were produced for 250 million francs, and 34,719,700 kg. were consumed for 285 million. These figures warn us that domestic production is not yet sufficient for consumption, but that it is gradually approaching it. The tribute we pay abroad for this article is now only 35 million per year, while already facing the 120 million surplus of consumption due to the increase of the population during the last 40 years.
The wool exhibition is due to the initiative and organisation of the Italian Wool Association and the Commercial Circle of Turin.
©Guide Officiel de l'Exposition Internationale de Turin 1911